Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

September 10, 2006

Bicycle Commuting Review

Category: Conservation,Fun,Save Fuel,Take Actions,Transportation – Tom Harrison – 8:09 pm

Now that my office is in Cambridge, I have been commuting by bike, about 6-1/2 miles one way. I have found routes that are smooth, on side roads or roads with a good margin, and figured out how to cross major intersections safely and quickly. The ride takes about 1/2 hour each way. And yes, it can be lovely.

This may be the first real means of incorporating exercise into my daily post-children life: it’s possibly faster to ride than drive, and it’s great to feel like I am getting in shape. But I also think this is a good additional step to reduce the amount of fuel I use.

I also bought various items for the bike including a flasher for the rear, a light for the front, some new wider, grippier, and tougher tires, and a very bright jacket. I still drop off my daughter at school in the morning, and pick up her and my son in the afternoon. My new office space has a shower and I have worked out the logistics of clothing and so on. I don’t think the cold or rain of Fall or Spring should bother me, but snow and ice will likely cause me to try public transit.

So now my car commuting is only a couple miles, twice a day for pickup and drop-off.

The motivation for riding my bike was mainly that there’s no reasonable parking in Cambridge. Since we moved, however, we have rented three parking spaces, which is probably enough for the five (and sixth to hire) of us. While I do have the option to drive and park, I really want to try riding for as long as possible.

The state of bicycle commuting, however, is horrible, here in the Boston area. In particular, I ride along the Charles River for much of my trip and there are marked bike routes — this seems great. But they are so terribly maintained that they are unsafe. There are bumps, pot holes, narrow sections, gravel and sand, puddles and so on. I tried a section along Memorial Drive and nearly killed myself trying to avoid a manhole that was protruding several inches from the pavement. The roads themselves are in much better shape.

What’s funny is that the distance from home to my new office is about the same as to my old office. But it never seemed to make sense to me to ride.
I continue to see in my own actions that my habits and assumptions about the way things are tend to shape my patterns of consumption and behavior. When changes occur, I have an opportunity to reassess these assumptions. Do we all assume that we need to drive to work? Do we need a big car? Do we need a big house? Do we need to eat so much? In what other was do we consume that I am not even aware of?


  1. […] use gasoline. So the most important change is not that I switched to a Prius, but that I am doing bicycle commuting to work, and perhaps that I pay the (unaccounted for external costs of) greenhouse gas emissions […]

    Pingback by Avoiding the All or Nothing Trap: Some is Just Fine | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — August 4, 2007 @ 11:46 am

  2. Give me an old cool bicycle, and I’ll ride around the city for days.

    Comment by Retro Bicycles — October 23, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  3. […] on my bike again, commuting to work, now that the roads and weather are more benign. It’s good for my muscles, and good for the environment, and reduces congestion, and takes less time. And my wife likes what it does for my […]

    Pingback by Lawn Aerator Shoes, Electric Mower, Organic Fertilizer, Water, Bike | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — April 19, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

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